Fresh Fresh Fresh

Bottom Line Pro-active Team Player Thinks Outside the Box of Employment

Posted by Michael Dolan on March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hiring managers, in the brief opportunity they afford job seekers, say they are turned off by certain words on the resume.  After a survey of HR professionals, Careerbuilder determined the worse resume cliché is “best of the breed.”  Sounds bad to me.

Other turn offs include Hard worker, Strategic thinker, Dynamic, Self-motivated, Detail-oriented.  Instead, the career consultant company suggests thinking of your own fresh words to describe yourself.  It’s George Orwell Rule #1: Never use a combination of words you are used to seeing in print.

Learn more:


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Language in Conflict

Posted by Michael Dolan on March 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Here’s an illuminating essay that shows the Arab-Israeli conflict is now so encrusted with legend and bias, it’s almost impossible to discuss it effectively.

Jodi Rudoren, a New Times reporter, zeros in on whether an action is “retaliation” or “response.”

“This is part of what I have come to call “conflict code”: words whose plain English meanings are politicized, distorted or undermined in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, which is much more a clash of narratives than a tussle over territory.”

She continues: “It’s not just about journalism. As Secretary of State John Kerry tries to push forward a framework for a peace agreement this month, the precise language of the document may determine whether talks continue or break down.”

See the whole essay:

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Where the Words Come from

Posted by Michael Dolan on March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

Latin and French send more words to the English language than any other sources.  Maybe no big surprise.  But Swedish is big too.  And Japanese is on the rise.

This from Philip Durkin, Deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and author of Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English.

More importantly, he has a fun interactive chart.  You can see the influences over the centuries. See it here:


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Posted by Michael Dolan on March 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


Now we have “transphobic.”  This new word with no clear definition has been applied to a joke Ellen DeGeneres made at the Oscars, according to the Washington Post,

Transphobic” is obviously built on the more commonly used “homophobic.”  It means being against something about transvestites – or maybe people who have had a sex change operation.

It’s been accepted uncritically, even by the news media, so we have all gotten used to the word “homophobic.”  But it’s a sloppy word, paving the way, for sloppy derivatives such as “transphobic.”

Like many of our current political terms, homophobic first came to its current meaning in the transformative 1960s.  It combines the first part of “homosexual” with the medical terms for fear, “phobia.”

But it’s not now and never has had medical meaning.  At its root, the word is misleading.  People (conventional liberals) who use the word mean it to say those who speak out against homosexual behavior or same-sex rights do so as a symptom of a disease.

They don’t.  People who speak against same sex behavior or criticize it are just people with a different political view.  The word is not an accurate description.  It’s not an argument.  It’s a slur.  Applying the term “homophobic” to political opponents is designed to marginalize them and belittle their opinion.  The word does not promote communication.  It ends communication.

Liberals should instead say ….  Well, I don’t know what they should say because I don’t understand the meaning behind the slur.

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Diner Answers

Posted by Michael Dolan on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized


The other day, we blogged some traditional terms for ordering food in a diner.  Here’s what they mean:

1. Draw one!                            A cup of coffee

2. Gimme a shimmy!                An order of Jello

3. Side of French!                     French fried potatoes added

4. Mickey with a wreath!           Corned beef and cabbage

5. Mike and Ike!                        Salt and pepper

6. Chocker hole and murk!        Doughnut and coffee.

7. Arizona!                                A glass of buttermilk

8. Clean the kitchen, red lead!   Hash with catsup

9. One on the city!                     A glass of water

10. A Coney Island!                   One hot dog

11. Garibaldi!                             An Italian hero sandwich

12. BLT, hold the mayo!             Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich without mayonnaise.

13. Whistleberries and hounds, a pair!  Beans with two frankfurters.

14. Bossy in a bowl!                   Beef stew.

15. Stir two! Wheat!                    Scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast

16. Black and white!                    Vanilla ice cream in a chocolate soda or milkshake (sometimes also coffee with cream)

17. Straight Kelly!                       A glass of orange juice

18. Eighty-one!                          A glass of water

19. Novy on a B!                         Nova Scotia smoked salmon on a bagel

20. Adam and Eve on a raft         Poached eggs on toast


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Watch Out for Your Watchers

Posted by Michael Dolan on February 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


This is a fun little video about the food label “Natural.”


Looks like useful advice from nice people who want you to stay healthy.  But look more closely.  The video comes from an online retailer called “Only Organic.”  Only Organic is worried the “natural” label is cutting into their “organic” brand.

The word “organic” itself is little more than a common sales tool for “premium branding.”  Premium means you pay more.  Let’s start with a definition of organic:

1. noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.

2. characteristic of, pertaining to, or derived from living organisms: organic remains found in rocks.

Agricultural sales people, starting mainly in the 1940s, appropriated this scientific sounding word to imply a close-to-the-land character.  It generally means free of added synthetic chemicals.  It does NOT mean none of these chemicals.

While “natural” means nothing as the video reports, a determined consumer can find a real definition of “organic.”  The US Department of Agriculture maintains the National Organic Program, with an actual “Certified Organic” seal.  US states (California) and other countries maintain their own definitions of the word.

Yet there is hardly agreement inside the organic industry about the term.  Look at this controversy:

For a look at some recent battles within the industry over “organic”:

But still organic foods must be better for you, right?  Not according to a Stanford University study.  Organic is no more nutritious or tasty than conventional:  They are just more expensive.

The costly yet meager benefits of organic food only apply to produce and meats that show the USDA certification.  What about the sign at your grocery store that says “organic.”  What does that mean?  Its means about a buck more.  Going further, what about a new term “sustainable”?  That’s about two bucks more.



Interesting New York Times column:

More controversy:

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Word Control

Posted by Michael Dolan on February 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

With hardly a whimper, the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday to increase the debt limit and avoid default.  The action comes in stark contrast to two previous times in the past when Republicans pushed the government to the edge of default.


Two communication analysts say it is because of one word.  Doug Hattaway and Steve Pierce in Politico Magazine charted the frequency of words used by both parties in the debates.

“Democrats undermined their own position by talking too much about raising the debt limit—and not talking about the consequences of sending the country into default. As seen in the word frequency chart above, the word “default” didn’t even show up in the debate during the first round of this fight in 2011,” they report.

They say the conversation changed immediately once Democrats took control of their language.  Polls reflected the change within two weeks, according to their analysis.

“Democrats also dialed up the emotional resonance of the message by saying that a default could cause an economic ‘catastrophe.’ Emotion works with cognition in the brain to help us with attention, retention and motivation. A message must create an emotional reaction for people to notice it, much less remember it,” they concluded.

Pretty good work.  Well supported

See the whole story:

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Let’s Have Fun

Posted by Michael Dolan on February 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

Perhaps it’s the universalist ethic of the Olympics, but there is little mendacity to report around the world these days.  The US Congress is saying the usual things and needs no translation.  The Catholic Church is trying to keep a low profile on its many controversial practices.  Academics aren’t reporting new breakthroughs in language.

So let’s have fun.  Remember those old black and white movies with the sassy waitress at the diner barking orders to the cook in their special language? How many can you figure out?


1. Draw one!

2. Gimme a shimmy!

3. Side of French!

4. Mickey with a wreath!

5. Mike and Ike!

6. Chocker hole and murk!

7. Arizona!

8. Clean the kitchen, red lead!

9. One on the city!

10. A Coney Island!

11. Garibaldi!

12. BLT, hold the mayo!

13. Whistleberries and hounds, a pair!

14. Bossy in a bowl!

15. Stir two! Wheat!

16. Black and white!

17. Straight Kelly!

18. Eighty-one!

19. Novy on a B!

20. Adam and Eve on a raft!


We’ll post the answers after you have a chance to guess.



Rule #1

Posted by Michael Dolan on January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

The first rule in George Orwell’s rules for writing is “Never use a combination of words you are used to seeing in print.”

Always be fresh.

Drop these clichés:


Boggles the mind

State of the Art

Third rail

Cutting edge



Or lack thereof






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Stafford of Life

Posted by Michael Dolan on January 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

All over the world this year, people are celebrating of the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet William Stafford (January 17, 1914 – August 28, 1993) because nobody else can do this:


One Evening
On a frozen pond a mile north of Liberal
almost sixty years ago I skated wild circles
while a strange pale sun went down.

A scattering of dry brown reeds cluttered
the ice at one end of the pond, and a fitful
breeze ghosted little surface eddies of snow.

No house was in sight, no tree, only
the arched wide surface of the earth
holding the pond and me under the sky.

I would go home, confront all my years, the tangled
events to come, and never know more than I did
that evening waving my arms in the lemon-colored light.

“One Evening” appears in “The Way It Is” (Graywolf Press; 1998)


No other poet reveals depth so simply.  While poets today are content to be obscure as a mark of brilliance, Stafford takes you to new places in a way that helps you see them too.  Many readers have said that after finishing a Stafford poem, they feel like they have a new best friend.

Every writer can learn from him.  You too.  Stafford’s writing draws praise from every part of the publishing world.  He demonstrates how writing is a method of perception.  He rose each morning to write a complete poem.  Everyday.  He reached deeper and deeper into the natural world to create his distinctive voice.  He combined human, life, and insight.  Readers often comment on the spiritual in his poems.  But look again at the words.  He does not mention anything spiritual.  He shows it to you in your mind.

Stafford sees the universe in each particular.  His voice — tone, topic, pace — are distinct and unique, just like each one of his scenes.  He skates not on any frozen pond, but on the pond a mile north of Liberal.

William Stafford makes my life better.  Everyday.



You’ll find plenty of biography and criticism with a web search.  It’s worth your time.

More on the 100th birthday celebrations:

More poems:



The title refers to a product of nature, bread, called “the staff of life.”

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